How a Husband Can Change His Wife by James MacDonald
“Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel and, as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).
This is the Bible’s primary passage for men on marriage. You know what I love about it? It’s just one verse. God knows men. Most men need the bottom-line. However, that one verse for men packs six actions that, if you will do consistently, it will totally, radically change your wife, your marriage—and you.
Let’s look at them briefly, one by one:
• Spend time with her. “Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them…” That word dwell could mean “to cohabit” and possibly refer to the sexual relationship, but most commentators agree that the intention is deeper than just physical intimacy. It encompasses all that married life involves. The nearest English equivalent to the word dwell is the idea of “to make a home with.” It is all about spending time together.
Every man understands the concept. If you want to lower your handicap or raise your bowling average or grow the best lawn or shrink your waistline or demolish the competition at work—it takes time! Get this in your head: you don’t get a great marriage by riding around in the same car, or by sleeping in the same bed or eating at the same table. A good marriage is not contagious—you can’t catch it. You have to invest in it. Pour time into your relationship or you’re not going to have a great marriage. That is what it means to dwell with her.
• Study her. “Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them with understanding . . .” The Greek phrase literally says, dwell with your wife according to knowledge. Knowledge about what? Knowledge means every piece of information you can get your hands on. Become a student of your wife. Know what she loves and hates. Discover what fires her up and what discourages her. Identify when the good time and the bad time is to approach her. Understand what makes her tick. You will bless her if you do. Wives appreciate being understood. They love it when they don’t have to explain stuff to you; they love it when you just know.
• Honor your wife. “…Dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife.” What’s honor? The idea is to value who she is, what she does, and to reward her with every means available to you. The primary focus here, however, is verbal. Honor her in public, in front of people, and not just in private.
• Protect her. “Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel.” All through Scripture, the human body is compared to a vessel (Jeremiah 18, Acts 9, Romans 9, 2 Timothy 2.) The word vessel communicates the idea that the human body is a like a piece of pottery or a clay jar. Honor is protective.
Here are three ways husbands can practice wise protectiveness.
1. Men can protect their wives physically by showing patience when things seem dangerous. We can be impatient with our wives’ fearfulness. When she reaches across the front seat and puts her hand on your leg and says, “Could you slow down, please?” she’s not feeling safe with you. Women get no adrenaline rush from danger. Men can protect their wives physically by showing patience.
2. Men can protect their wives physically by insuring her safety in your absence. When you need to be out of town overnight, you can go a long way to sit down with your wife and just make sure she knows she’s safe. “I’ve talked to the neighbors. Some one is going to check in on you. I’ll be calling to make sure you’re safe.”
3. Men can protect their wives physically by managing our aggression during conflict. I’m guessing I’m not the only person who knows what it is like to have an argument with his wife. I don’t think men realize the damage they can do. Men, don’t bully her. Don’t use a deeper voice to power over her in an argument and suppress her opinion into silence through fear. Don’t throw things. Don’t punch the wall. Conscientiously back away, men. Have the fight, but keep it fair. Make sure she feels safe.
Ask yourself, “Does my wife feel safe with me?” Does she feel covered by my strength? Does she feel protected by my God-given presence? Does she feel secure because of my sensitivity to her given need for protection?
• Open up to her. “As being heirs together of the grace of life.” The grace of life is all of the blessings that God pours into our lives—all His goodness that we don’t deserve. The grace of life is everything from the joy of the honeymoon to the children, to the children’s marriages, to all of the joyful, happy things that happen in married life. Together is the operative word. It’s not my right to hoard the blessings of life on myself. God’s design is that we would share life together. If you’re going to have a relationship with your wife, that is going to mean you must open yourself up to her, disclose yourself to her, share yourself with her.
Women’s number one complaint as it relates to their husbands—Christian or otherwise—is “Why won’t he open up to me?” Your wife can’t know you just by watching you. The only way she can get to know you is if you tell her about yourself.
• Pray with her. “That your prayers may not be hindered.” The word hindered means to cut off. It’s the idea of throwing an obstacle in the way of an intended path. If you’re not doing these things with your wife, your prayer life is being blocked. It doesn’t say failure will hinder your prayer life in some specific way. It will hinder your prayer life in every way. Do you struggle with in prayer? “God doesn’t answer me.” “I practically never pray with my wife.” “My prayers are cut off somewhere.” All that describes the word hindered. This is a negative promise of Scripture: If you don’t dwell with your wife in an understanding way, giving honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel, as heirs together of the grace of life, your prayers will be cut off, hindered, made difficult in every way.
So those are six actions that practiced consistently will absolutely transform your marriage, your wife and you. You’ve got God’s Word on it.
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